A haven for the wealthy but a nightmare for the poor, Ecthellion is a lumen-powered city of technological dreams. When a power-hungry billionaire reveals an invention that could tear the world apart, three unlikely allies — an anxious social worker, an exiled gangster, and a soldier determined to prove herself — must set aside their entangled histories to fight back.
From where Nico slouched in the humid half-dark of the tavern, his city was a red glow on the horizon like a fallen star, almost lost to the night and the window’s grimy glass. Here, miles from Ecthellion, the moon glowed like a lantern behind lacy clouds, but its beauty meant nothing to him. Despite the heat, Nico kept his sleeves pulled down. No one here knew where he’d come from. No need to change that with one very obvious scar.
Kerosene lamplight shone on the grins of the face cards Nico was holding: two liars, two thieves, a lord, and a hangman. He laid them down.
The men around him exploded into curses. Once, that would’ve made Nico lean back and grin like his hangman. Now, he just picked up the ante-cup and plucked out the sticky notes inside. Two hundred; pitiful for a man who’d played tables where the stakes were diamond necklaces. But Nico was grudgingly grateful nonetheless. Eight months into his exile, his plan to return was almost complete. He just needed the smugglers’ fee.
“Good game, gentlemen.” He looked at the scowls around him and smiled disarmingly. “Don’t worry. I’ll come back and lose it next week.”
The banter tasted like sand. Nico hated this, hated playing the cheery, deferential gambler. He wanted people to blanch at the sight of him, fight him, pay him tribute. He wanted his old glory.
He wanted Ecthellion.